Tottenham Hotspur: Can They Be The ‘Kings’ Of England?
With Ledley King believing Spurs will soon challenge for the title, Tom Gatehouse looks at the flaws in the squad, and has a different take on Bale’s future
When talking about clubs who are capable of winning the Premier League, we have always drawn from a very small pool of potential candidates. Over the past three years, we have seen that pool decrease to such an extent that the city of Manchester is the only reasonable destination for the trophy in most eyes.
United and City hold a current monopoly over the highest tier of the English game, both drawing from very different resources to achieve success.
Those bubbling under are the usual suspects: Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham. Each of them have had up and down seasons, and although they fully deserve to be the chasing pack, they have not shown the necessary consistency to keep pace with the two Manchester clubs. After all, it is consistency that wins you leagues.
While Arsenal, and more recently Chelsea, have been members of the elitist ‘big four’ for many years, it is Tottenham who have now taken the step up, and are now considered part of the gang. Spurs fans are enjoying their current status, and echoing Ledley King’s words on Thursday, have begun to seriously dream of real domestic glory.
“I rate the current Spurs team very highly,” King told BBC School Reporters.
“I think we’ve got a young and ambitious manager who’s great and is going to do well for the club.
“I think we’ve got a great group of players at a good age where they’re improving all the time and reaching their peak.
“The way the team are progressing at the minute, hopefully in the next year or two they will be really challenging for the Premier League.”
Now, this is Ledley King, former Captain and now legend of the North London club. Ask him a question about the future ambitions of his beloved Tottenham, and you will have no shortage of positive material. But, taking an objective look at the club, there may be something there to back up his understandably bias words.
Tottenham, in recent years, have been an entertaining, ‘almost’ club; often reaching the latter stages of domestic cups, and even enjoying short forays in Europe, but perennially falling short.
But, under the leadership of Andre Villas-Boas, the once heir to ‘The Special One’, Jose Mourinho, Tottenham have taken real strides towards that most grand of levels. Although not the finished article, the Spurs’ squad is full of interesting, dynamic players capable of something akin to King’s ambitious prophecies.
There are however, a number of issues with the Tottenham squad as it is.
Tottenham’s defence is perhaps their weakest area. Although Jan Vertonghen is turning into a very good player, his partnership with Michael Dawson lacks mobility, and their positioning can be exploited by the more adventurous of teams.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto is a solid pick at left-back, but he is not a world-beater. Only Kyle Walker, the young Englishman, exudes an obvious talent, confidence and consistency in the Spurs backline. The reigning PFA Young Player of the Year is blossoming into a considerable full-back, and his presence will be vital in any push for glory.
Although Tottenham have an abundance of quality in midfield, they are missing what many consider to be a crucial ingredient. Premiership winning sides, more often than not, have an ever-present ‘destroyer’ in the centre; bustling around, imposing himself with heavy tackles, and giving his side a mental edge as well as a physical one.
Arsenal had Patrick Vieira, Chelsea had Michael Essien, and Man City currently have Yaya Toure. Arguably, Man United have not had such a player during their recent successes, but they did have the malevolent Roy Keane during a particularly purple patch in their history. Keane was both a dominating figure and a fierce, psychological weapon in his heyday. Tottenham do not currently have any player to fit the bill.
Scott Parker is a tidy terrier, but not an ominous presence and Tom Huddlestone is not cut from the same cloth as those mentioned above. However, Sandro does have all the ingredients to be that midfield ‘enforcer’ if he can come back from his knee injury and build upon his impressive early-season form. But if Tottenham are to pull of something extraordinary, then they may need to invest in a man capable of controlling games from the centre, in order to free up their more creative players.
Finally, Spurs, quite obviously, need more strikers. Jermaine Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor are two decent enough strikers on their day, but the two of them are not enough to lead the line for an entire season, especially if you want to challenge for top honours. Defoe has 10 goals in the league this season, but has not scored this year; and eccentric Adebayor only has two goals to his name for the whole season.
Scoring fewer goals than relegation threatened Reading at home, the Tottenham strike-force looks like an old spade in comparison to the ‘chainsaws’ in the Manchester clubs’ possession. This brings us nicely to the crux of Tottenham’s hopes and dreams: Gareth Bale.
Bale has kept Spurs afloat since the New Year, and few can argue against that. Scoring goals for fun, the Welshman has recently seemed like an unrelenting blunderbuss. But, if you start letting off fireworks in the wilderness, the spotlight of the big clubs will soon find you. And, with Barcelona, Madrid and United all being linked with a move, Tottenham fans will be fearful of the thought of life without the man/machine.
But, if Bale does end up departing the club at the end of the season, it could actually be an event that opens the door to new heights, if handled well.
Selling Fernando Torres to Chelsea netted Liverpool what was believed to be around £50 million. Many Liverpool fans feared the worst; but now they have a new name to sing, that of Luis Suarez – the man bought for half of the money they received for selling the now defunct Spaniard. And while there was money ‘wasted’ on Andy Carroll, Liverpool could be forgiven considering the very short amount of time they had until that transfer window slammed shut.
Imagine what Tottenham could do with a transfer fee of possibly over £40 million for Bale.
If Bale stays, then he will be the man charged with leading Spurs on their push for silverware. If he goes, then Villas-Boas will no doubt be given a considerable war-chest to sign heavyweight recruitment’s, in what will be the most important transfer window for the club in modern times.
Even though his stint as Chelsea boss was a short one, he still managed to procure the likes of Juan Mata and Gary Cahill for his former club, it is clear he has an eye for talent.
One thing that Bale, Villas-Boas, and Tottenham have to achieve this season, regardless of potential vulnerabilities, and any aspirations of future grandeur, is qualify for the Champions League next season. Real progress towards a maiden title may well be put on hold if they fail.
It is looking like they may have to stop the ‘Qualification-Kings’ themselves to manage it; their eternal foe, Arsenal. Can they do it? Ask Ledley, but only if you’re a Spurs man.
What do Tottenham fans think? What do you need to add to make your squad capable of challenging for the Premier League title? Get involved in the comments section below.
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